Fish Fried in Tallow – a Real, Traditional Fat

March 20, 2009 · 24 comments

Tallow was used for frying (pan frying or deep frying) in many restaurants for years until “they” convinced people that it was a “bad, saturated fat“.  But I know better, and it doesn’t make me sick like the fats restaurants use now.  I can’t eat fried food anywhere but home, or I get that nasty film in my mouth and a stomach ache from whatever fake oil they used…(Soybean oil?)

Tonight when I was cooking our Tilapia (find safe, healthy seafood here), I was afraid it was going to taste greasy, but it didn’t at all.  It wasn’t heavy or greasy, it didn’t leave the waxy film in my mouth, and I felt great after eating two big tasty pieces.  Kent is only just starting to like fish, and he ate three big pieces.  Three of our four kids loved it, too.  (Can’t seem to hit 100%.)  All this with a healthy, traditional cooking fat!

If you can’t find it locally, find a healthy source for beef tallow (rendered beef fat) and healthy meats online.

Tallow is also great for making healthy, homemade french fries, real chicken nuggets” or onion rings, yummmmmm.

I recently tried to render my own beef fat, what a joke!  (Yes, I know it can’t really be this difficult, and I will try it again one of these days.)  I read all about the process on the internet and thought I was ready.  I knew that you had to keep it low so it didn’t burn, which I did.  But then when it took a whole DAY to melt the dang stuff, I figured I’d had it too low, duh.  I turned it up a little, and ended up burning it.  We had the most disgusting smell here that you can imagine, and it took days to air the house out…in the winter…in Michigan.  Then the smell was on us and we’d get looks when we’d go anywhere, so of course we felt like we had to explain it to people.  You can guess how well that went over, “Yeah, Kel was trying to render some beef fat.”  Can you picture the looks?

I’m just going to buy it for a while until I’m brave enough to risk putting my family through that again.

UPDATE:  Success! Read about it here:  how to render fat for a healthy cooking oil.

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  • { 23 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 FoodRenegade March 20, 2009 at 12:24 am

    Congratulations on getting such a good response to your fried tilapia! I was sure you were going to share a batter recipe, but instead you asked us for one. :) I hope somebody posts one in the comments!

    FoodRenegade

    Reply

    2 Kelly March 20, 2009 at 1:06 am

    Hi Kristen,

    I’m enjoying your new carnival!

    I only used my old “stand-by” for chicken (remember I’m new to cooking fish!), which is, I’m embarrassed to say…Drakes Mix – in the box ya know? (Nothing TOO offensive in the ingredients, but I’m sure there’s a good homemade one out there that is very simple.) I mixed it up with beer and it was very good. So as you said, hopefully someone shares a good one with us!

    Reply

    3 cheeseslave March 20, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Kelly, you can also render beef fat in the oven. I personally like to do it that way, especially on chilly days.

    I do a whole lot of it at once. It keeps.

    cheeseslave

    Reply

    4 Kristin March 20, 2009 at 8:45 am

    It does take all day, Kelly! I do think rendering lard smells better than tallow though. If we could only get decent seafood here! Alas, I’ll have to stick with frying chicken, fries, and potato chips.

    Reply

    5 Tamara March 20, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Thanks! Im sorry your first batch of tallow didnt go well! Think of it like inventors do, the quicker you fail, the quicker you succeed!

    Having said that, I think I’ll buy me some tallow from grassfedbeef.com this weekend, lol.

    Reply

    6 Rosy March 20, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Fried tilapia is great in fish tacos. Just make strips of fish, like fish sticks. and serve them is soft taco shells with napa cabbage, tomatoes, and cilantro-lime-honey sauce.

    The sauce is olive oil, fresh cilantro, lime juice and honey all mixed together. I don’t know the measurements as I just pored it in the blender until it was to my liking.

    My hubby likes his fish tacos with out the taco, so your kids might like the fish sticks with dipping sauce. (cause you know he is just a big kid himself.)

    Reply

    7 vehementflame March 20, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    hurrah for fish n chips!!! lookin good kelly! We can’t do beef so our fry oil is olive or grapeseed….gotta have fried chicken and egg rolls ya, know! for batter I suggest flour, cormeal,buttamilk(o beer), egg, lemon, garlic,s&P,a touch of brown sugar, and some chesapeake season(old bay)…

    vehementflame

    Reply

    8 Annette March 21, 2009 at 1:37 am

    Hi Kelly,

    Back in the day we used to fry mac and cheese even LOL but we always used panko. They are very crispy dried bread crumbs you can find in the Asian section of your supermarket or Asian market and they don’t compact together like ordinary bread crumbs, or mush up like crackers so they let the fat drain out which keeps your food from being greasy.

    I have no idea how they make them though, that might not be NT.

    Annette

    Reply

    9 Kelly March 22, 2009 at 1:10 am

    Annette, maybe someone has some and can check an ingredient label for us…?

    Reply

    10 Mary March 28, 2009 at 12:57 am

    Hi Kelly,

    Maybe this is a dumb question, but here goes. By definition, is lard only from pork and then tallow from other animals? I have always thought of tallow as that yucky thick stuff on lamb that starts to form the minute the meat gets a bit cool. I suppose had I thought of it, I would assume beef has it, too, but I guess I never thought about it.

    I love your description of your attempt, especially the part about the smell sticking to you! Better luck next time.

    Mary

    Reply

    11 CHEESESLAVE March 28, 2009 at 9:20 am

    Mary – yes it’s tallow for lamb and beef. Lard is from pigs.

    CHEESESLAVE

    Reply

    12 Heather March 28, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    A turkey fryer works well for rendering tallow or lard. Nice big pot, a set-up that’s meant for dealing with grease, & you can keep the mess OUTSIDE!!

    Reply

    13 Kelly March 28, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Mary, you know what they always say… “no such thing as a dumb question”! Not very long ago I didn’t know that either.

    Heather, great suggestion!

    Reply

    14 Margaret Merkel April 16, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    I asked for 20 extra pounds of pork fat when we bought our pig this past October. I rendered the lard on top of my stove which did take all day – I worked out pretty well – but we also smelled like a fry house.
    I would try it out doors if I ever do it again. The lard makes great cookies – I use lard for 1/2 of the butter. I will have to try it with fisth too.

    Reply

    15 Musings of a Housewife July 13, 2009 at 7:53 am

    Oh we love pan fried tilapia around here. Going to order tallow now. WOOT!

    Musings of a Housewife

    Reply

    16 Erin July 16, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    I just rendered some tallow, and it took me all day, by the way. But I’m wondering how you store it? Should it be stored in the fridge? I have it in a glass jar and it is hard as a rock once I take it out of the fridge…any suggestions? Thanks!

    Reply

    17 Kelly July 16, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    Erin, I store it in the frig, then set it into a bowl of hot water when I want to pop it out into a pan to heat up again.
    Kelly

    Reply

    18 Tina August 15, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Hi Kelly,

    I recently rendered both lard and beef tallow. I did it in a hamilton beach 7 quart crockpot on low. It took hours and hours but it seemed to turn out great! I say seemed to because I’ve never done it before. I guess I would have known if it was burnt though…

    Reply

    19 KitchenKop August 15, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Tina, isn’t that exciting? Wait ’til you cook in it the first time, you won’t believe how yummy food turns out. :)
    Kelly

    Reply

    20 Cheri April 29, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    How do you know if it’s burnt?

    Reply

    21 KitchenKop May 1, 2011 at 12:07 am

    You would be able to know by the awful smell!

    Reply

    22 Annemarie March 5, 2013 at 7:41 am

    I just rendered 11 liters of beef fat in my slow cookers. It only took me 3 hours or so. My butcher puts the fat through the minces. Perhaps it goes faster if the pieces are tiny? But, I would not render fat in anything other than the slow cooker. Good luck next time.

    Reply

    23 Michael Edwards October 3, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Very interesting take on “healthy cooking oils”. I guess just about everyone has an opinion. I’d certainly be concerned if I were to go back to animal fats with all the trash they are feeding or injecting animals with-hormones, antibiotics, etc. Most of this garbage accumulates in the fat. I’m not aware of any method used to remove these potentially toxic or hormone-disrupting chemicals. Besides, many people have cholesterol problems, and eating animal fats could cause them serious cardiovascular issues. People need to keep in mind that hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils must NEVER be consumed.

    Reply

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